Following on from the enjoyable first movie Manga Entertainment bring us the second theatrical outing the in Naruto Shippuden chronology with the subtitle ‘Bonds’.
This feature is being released on both DVD & Blu-Ray on April 2nd, though this release is based on the DVD version.
From the opening few minutes of the film we are given an indication this may be a fair contrast to its predecessor as we are treated to one of the most popular main characters, Sasuke, in deep thought before appearing to be on the move. For those wanting to know where this movie takes place in the timeline of the main story, it follows the conclusion of the third season featured in Box sets 5 & 6 of Manga Entertainment’s Naruto Shippuden DVD releases.
The story sees the Leaf Village, Konaha, attacked by a unique foe who have the ability to fly & fire weapons. Something not seen in Naruto before just like the carrier ships the enemy arrive on – they certainly seem out of the norm for the franchise. This enemy causes destruction on the village and certainly kick off proceedings in this movie with a bang. Konaha are able to deduce how the enemy operates and proceed to send a small team to their location, providing a very enjoyable action scene that sees Sai come into the forefront using his sketching abilities to his advantage. But the story takes another twist as Naruto, Hinata & Sakura are tasked with accompanying a well versed doctor named Shinnou and his younger comrade Amaru to aid in the relief efforts of another village following a similar attack. Add Orichimaru wanting this famed doctor to assist in putting an end to his rapidly declining health into the mix, cue Sasuke’s involvement in the story, and we are in for the quite the adventure.
This film as a whole certainly provides many twists and turns that one won’t expect. The story progresses smoothly, is paced well and keeps the attention of the viewer easily, on occasion creating more questions thus keeping the intrigue alive. However with this being said, keeping in mind I am someone who regularly indulges in the series, I must say that by the end of the film I was left feeling underwhelmed. For the franchise as a whole there were elements that did feel somewhat farfetched – that’s saying something given the abilities & powers that the multitude of characters can wield and how fictional some stories have been in the past. The story at multiple points wagers the importance of certain details in a negative way, at times feeling contrived. While I appreciate a primary focus is given to Naruto & Amaru, I would like to have known how what is occurring had an impact elsewhere and where other characters are. There was the odd moment of this conveyed but looking back there were questions left answered.
The film as a whole is enjoyable but at the same time I wanted more. The fact there is interaction between Naruto & Sasuke is a big plus, but it came across as though this entire film was here just to provide another theatrical outing for the franchise and really nothing more. The first Naruto Shippuden movie (read my review of it HERE) left me feeling excited, invigorated and wanting more theatrical outings from this universe to compliment the long running series. Yet after watching ‘Bonds’ I didn’t have those same feelings. I enjoyed watching it yes, but really not much more than that. I appreciate this is a standalone tale that has no bearing on the actual main story, but I do feel a little more effort could have been put into the story to make me feel that investing the time to watch this film felt warranted.
Extras on this release come in the way of production art, Japanese trailers for the film, the television opening sequence that featured clips from the movie. (This sequence was used for a short time while the film was in cinemas during the airing of the series in Japan.) The picture & sound quality of this release are very good, I imagine the Blu-Ray will look and sound just as good as the first film did. Audio options consist of English and Japanese (with subtitles) 5.1 surround sound. I would like to add that the English dub of this film is very well executed and could be argued it is superior to the original Japanese audio.
In conclusion this is an okay outing at best for a Naruto theatrical release. If you’re a die-hard fan you will get a kick out of many aspects of it, the moments with Sasuke & Naruto together in particular. If you are more a casual fan or on the fence about watching this you can probably get by without it. There are some great action sequences reminding you how good the franchise is along with the traditional comedy moments that blend in very well, but it doesn’t change the fact the story could have been better overall.
That being said given this is likely one of the few Naruto releases in the UK that will see a Blu-Ray version available, if you are after some HD goodness of the fiery ninja and his comrades it’s worth picking up the double pack that also includes the first movie.
Naruto Shippuden The Movie 2: ‘Bonds’ is available from 2nd April on both DVD and Blu-Ray.
You can pre-order the DVD HERE.
The standalone Blu-Ray can be ordered HERE and the Blu-Ray double pack containing both ‘Bonds’ & the first movie can be ordered HERE.
– Jeremy Graves